Utakoi Review — B


A loose adaptation of the Hyakunin Isshu. When they say “loose” they really mean it here. We have poets from a thousand years ago racing each other and chatting in outer space.

Utakoi tells the stories of some of the Hyakunin Isshu’s love poem’s authors. I love historical shows like this. Utakoi didn’t feel bound to stick too closely to history (many of the stories communicate very modern sentiments) but it did reach me more about this era of Japanese history than I knew before.

The parts set in the modern world are bizarre, to say the least. I’m not sure they were necessary. They didn’t seem to add much for me. But the love stories set in the past are excellent.


It must have been an interesting time period to live in, at least for rich people. They just lounge around in the palace all day, writing poems and flirting. At least that’s what I gathered from Utakoi.

Many of the love stories were quite touching. I especially liked the fact that they didn’t all have happy endings where the couple gets together. There were a few relationships that failed, even, and had one or both of the characters get into a different relationship later on. If you have any interest in history, poetry or romance I recommend giving Utakoi a whirl.

  • Storytelling – B – Nice short little love stories.
  • Voice – A – Quite the bizarre mix of historical period romances and poets transported into the future.
  • Characters – B – Great characters, but we go through them pretty quickly. I watched it in spurts and forgot who the characters were in between.
  • Attention Grab – B – I somehow lost interest in the middle, but then watched the last six episodes in one sitting. I recommend marathoning it.
  • Production – B – Looks great, pretty unique style.
  • Overall – B

Recommendations – Aoi Bungaku, Chihayafuru

6 thoughts on “Utakoi Review — B

  1. I really liked this show. It was very appealing visually. I thought the love stories were interesting because, as you said, they don’t always work out. I also agree that the sections in which the narrators dress up as Tokyo Tower and so forth did not seem necessary. I suppose they were there to make the show relatable, but I think I would have enjoyed the show without them just as much.

    1. I don’t know, I could related *much* more easily to the people of the tenth century than I can do poets from that time period cosplaying as the Tokyo Tower.

  2. Hey, you finished Utakoi – how nice!

    “The parts set in the modern world are bizarre, to say the least. I’m not sure they were necessary. ” I found these parts annoying, as well, and episode 6 also. But then again, most of the historic stories are rather melancholic or even tragic. I assume a counterbalance to this was not a bad idea.

    “Production – B – Looks great, pretty unique style.” I’m glad you appreciate it, as well. The budget was fairly small, I guess, but they more than made up for that with nice Japanese colour palette and intricate patterns. I found the pictures of the court ladies sitting on their tatami w/ these awesome kimonos arranged around them very impressive

    “Many of the love stories were quite touching.” Indeed! I particularly loved that sad and melancholic stories.

    Btw, if you like reading fantasy novels I can recommend one which is set in Heian era: Kara Dalkey: Little Sister http://amzn.to/Xnuk6V (actually, her other novels set in that era are excellent, as well). I read it in one go; it’s funny, cute and entertaining – basically like watching adventure anime! Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print – I ordered a used book myself.

    1. Yep, your reminders inspired me!

      I guess the goofy parts did help balance out the sadder stories, but I don’t think it was necessary. Even the stories without happy endings were not necessarily sad for the most part. The couples may not get together, but they still manage to move on. As far as love stories go I don’t think they were too depressing.

      They did have a great color palette. I prefer shows with a lot of bright colors, and the kimonos showcased that nicely.

      The book looks interesting, I’ve added it to my reading list.

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